The Mill has a mix of Gothic and Art Deco architectural styles. PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Jalan Kilang at Bukit Merah may not be the sexiest address, but it is home to one of Singapore's most stunning buildings.
The Mill is a six-storey alternative industrial space housing a community of creatives of all trades. It doesn't have the usual sleek glass and steel facade. Instead, the building is all black with two towers, designed in two different architectural styles.
If it looks a little like Parkview Square in Bugis, nicknamed the Gotham building, that is because one tower of The Mill was designed by the same company, James Adams Design. The US-based firm designed one of the towers in Art Deco style. The other tower, also in Gothic style, is by Swan & Maclaren, one of Singapore's most established architecture firms. The company has designed landmarks such as Goodwood Park Hotel and St Andrew's Cathedral.
The building serves as the headquarters for The Mill, a consortium of four design firms, Krieit Associates; Splendor; The ID Dept; and XXII Century, each specialising in their own niche styles. Of the building, Roy Teo, founder of The Mill says: "I want to exemplify a fortress of sorts, one that would be seen as a haven for local creatives."
It's also a look that appeals to Mr Teo, who grew up in the UK and developed a fascination with Art Deco and Gothic architecture. He was inspired to marry the two contrasting styles to reflect the potential of exploring new horizons, and spark new cross-disciplinary collaborations within the design community.
The offices boast 6m-high ceilings, and some units feature a tall spiral staircase. In the car park, walls are covered with black and white graffiti – not randomly drawn murals but carefully commissioned to create scenes from an abandoned castle. Besides The Mill, the building houses other tenants including fashion label Kevin Seah Black. The building is not usually open to the public, but guided tours are being organised just for Singapore Design Week.
The Mill is one of three stops in The City Ramble Process, a design trail that takes you to where creatives are housed. Besides exploring the site, peep at the special installations put up by the other designers, or take part in their workshops. Designer Tiffany Loy will present a collection of her works to challenge the definition of fabric. Titled Is that fabric?, she weaves plastic sheets, as well as paper and wool, into unconventional fabrics.
Creative folks involved in The City Ramble Process design trail include Tommy Huang from For The Common Goods, Sarah Lim from Poppy Floral Studio, Adib Jalal and Stella Gwee from Shophouse & Co, Ivan Yeo from The 1925 Brewing Co, and Tiffany Loy. PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
In turn, Furniture store For The Common Goods will showcase some of the pieces that it carries such as Studiohiji's rattan chairs and PDM Brand's mats. Or pick up some flower design tips at Poppy Floral Studio's workshop.
Ms Loy, who is weaving all her 22 pieces for the collection herself, is looking forward to showing her work as part of The City Ramble Process. She had previously shown her work at small art galleries. "I'm hoping to reach out to a wider audience with this installation at The Mill," she says.
Murals and chandeliers in the carpark space add to the enchantment of The Mill. PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
The City Ramble Process is one of three design trails organised by Shophouse & Co, a placemaking studio. "As placemakers, we strongly believe that the encounters of people and places that make up a city help inject vibrancy into communities," says Stella Gwee, co-founder of Shophouse & Co.
Adib Jalal, the other co-founder adds: "There are many young creatives in our midst and we want to celebrate this swelling of creative energy in our city by telling their stories."
The City Ramble Process is on from March 10 to 11, from 11am to 6pm. Tickets are priced at S$20 per stop, at thecityramble.com.
Written by Tay Suan Chiang for The Business Times.